DEPARTMENT OF THE AIR FORCE AIR FORCE MATERIEL COMMAND AIR FORCE FLIGHT TEST CENTER EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, CALIFORNIA and SPORT AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLERS ORGANIZATION

United States of America

BEFORE THE FEDERAL SERVICE IMPASSES PANEL

In the Matter of

DEPARTMENT OF THE AIR FORCE

AIR FORCE MATERIEL COMMAND

AIR FORCE FLIGHT TEST CENTER

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, CALIFORNIA

and

SPORT AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLERS

ORGANIZATION

Case No. 98 FSIP 107

DECISION AND ORDER

    The Department of the Air Force, Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC), Air Force Flight Test Center (AFFTC), Edwards Air Force Base, California, (Employer) filed a request for assistance with the Federal Service Impasses Panel (Panel) to consider a negotiation impasse, under the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute (Statute), 5 U.S.C. § 7119, between it and the Sport Air Traffic Controllers Organization (Union).

    After investigation of the request for assistance, the Panel determined that the impasse, involving a ground rule proposal addressing the parties’ obligations during successor collective bargaining agreement (CBA) negotiations regarding permissive subjects under § 7106(b)(1) of the Statute, should be resolved through the issuance of an Order to Show Cause (Order) why the parties should not withdraw their proposals and abide by the terms of the Statute. After considering the entire record, including written statements of position, the Panel would issue a binding decision to resolve the dispute. The parties submitted written statements pursuant to this procedure and the Panel has considered the entire record.

BACKGROUND

    The AFMC essentially advances, integrates, and uses technology to develop, test, acquire, and sustain weapons systems. The AFFTC, a sub-component of AFMC, tests, evaluates, and maintains aircraft; its air traffic controllers monitor and control the limited air space used for aircraft testing. The Union represents a bargaining unit of 16 air traffic controllers and electronic technicians. Although the parties’ CBA was due to expire on March 16, 1995, its terms continue under an annual renewal provision.

ISSUE AT IMPASSE

    Whether the parties have shown cause why the wording in the Panel’s Order, that they withdraw their proposals and abide by the terms of § 7106(b)(1) of the Statute, should not be adopted.

POSITIONS OF THE PARTIES

1. The Employer's Position

    In essence, the Employer accepts the terms of the Panel’s Order. In this regard, it is unnecessary to address permissive bargaining subjects in the parties’ ground rules because the Statute, case law, and administrative decisions govern the issue.

2. The Union's Position

    While the Union agrees that the parties should comply with § 7106(b)(1) of the Statute, it states that "it is the responsibility of all Federal employees to insure compliance with both statutes and Executive Orders (E.O.) . . . E.O. 12871 mandates negotiations on the issues set forth in 5 U.S.C. § 7106(b)(1) and hence, those issues are no longer permissive bargaining issues, but mandatory." The parties’ ground rules should reflect this reality.

CONCLUSIONS

    Having considered the evidence and arguments in this case, we conclude that the dispute should be resolved on the basis of the wording of the Panel’s Order, which requires the parties to abide by the terms of the Statute regarding permissive subjects of bargaining. In this regard, we are not persuaded that there is a need to address the matter in a ground rules agreement. In our view, the parties will be better served by the clear understanding that their respective bargaining rights and obligations are as set forth in the Statute and refined by subsequent Federal Labor Relations